Campaigners set up fighting fund to stop Sunderland GP surgery being turned into YMCA hostel
Residents have set up a fighting fund to stop plans to turn a former GP surgery on Wearside into a youth hostel.
The Echo reported last week how hundreds of people have made their opposition known to proposals for Church View Medical Centre in Silksworth to be used by the YMCA, as a home for vulnerable young people leaving the care system.
The plans would include an eight-bed purpose-built scheme to provide a place to live for young people aged between 16 and 21 who are preparing to leave the care system.
The YMCA argues that using the site as a hostel it will go towards helping the “huge issue” of young people leaving care at 16 with nowhere safe to stay and in some cases even ending up on the streets.
However, more than 1,000 people have now signed a petition opposing the surgery being used as a residential centre, citing potential problems with anti-social behaviour as one of the main issues.
About 250 people attended the latest meeting at Silksworth Youth and Community Centre to speak out against the plans.
The campaign group is now hoping to set up funds to appoint a solicitor to argue its case as to why the centre should not be turned into a hostel.
Residents who sit on the campaign group spoke of their recent trip out to visit the YMCA buildings in Fence Houses, Toward Road in Hendon and Chester-le-Street, saying that those living close to those sites had told them of their issues with such hostels.
Grandmother Jennifer Daly, 60, who lives in Silksworth, said: “We’ve heard stories about other YMCAs from visiting the areas they are in and we are disgusted.
“Some people who thought it would be a good thing have heard what is going on in these places and now they are saying “no way, not in my area”.
“We’ve got signs and posters up now.”
Kath Hope, chief executive at YMCA Wearside last week hit out at comments about the plans on social media which she says have been a “combination of misinformation, gossip and lies”.
She said: “Our scheme will provide a home for young people between the ages of 16 to 21 years-old and provide them with training and education to support their development.”
No application has yet been submitted to Sunderland City Council for a change of use of the building, a spokesman for the authority confirmed.